Then, in third grade, he tested at a 2017 State House committee hearing for a recess bill Douglas sponsored. He returned to support Douglas’ attempt to get another bill passed in 2019.
“I was a little kid and recessed was everything,” Pierce, who will be starting high school in the fall, said in a recent interview. “Now, as a teenager, you don’t really think about it as much.”
Local school boards will now be required to file their recess policies through middle school with the Georgia Board of Education. The policies must say whether breaks can be withheld for disciplinary or academic reasons.
The new law also allows recess to be waived on days when students have physical education or other “structured activity time,” such as games led by a teacher. It also can be skipped for scheduling conflicts, bad weather, field trips or other unavoidable obstacles.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that recession benefits children socially and emotionally and also helps them focus in the classroom. Proponents of Douglas’ recess bills say kids need time to play and relax.
Olga Jarrett, a retired Georgia State University education professor, was among those who tested at the Capitol with Pierce and other students in 2017. She said by email after HB 1283 passed that she still hopes for a half hour of mandatory recess per day, without an exception for punishment.
But she said she appreciates Douglas’s repeated attempts to get a law passed and “can understand that he figured some recess was better than none.”
Douglas said on the House floor on April 4, in the last hour or so of the legislative session, that he’d worked with Kemp to avoid a veto on this version of the recess legislation.
One school district observed that the legislation doesn’t appear to require much.
“This is more of a spirit of recess bill than an attack on local control and on the scheduling of your calendar,” Mike McGowan, chief of staff in the Cherokee County School District, told his school board last month.